Your online community is an important digital asset for your business. It's essentially the online hub. And if you're just renting space for it, you may be leaving yourself open for issues that are out of your control.
Some companies rely on third-party platforms like Facebook to engage their customers. But with a website, marketing team, social media team and tech team already in place, should businesses focus on driving users to their own online community platform?
There is a lot of value in providing an "owned" or custom space for your community's growth.
For starters, you instantly have more control. You're no longer confined to the functionality of the host platform. You become the decision maker and decide what is right for your community. Conventional social media pales in comparison.
As you can see, Discord only gives you data from the last 120 days for non-partner and non-verified servers.
Social networks also tend to be noisy. This is especially true when it comes to politics, and religion. The discussions often breed aggression and hostility. In turn, this hinders opportunities for positive interactions and community-building with customers.
According to the GlobalWebIndex report, members of community sites prefer online communities in comparison to social media sites for the following:
- Meaningful conversation (36% higher)
- Getting respect from others (28% higher)
- Feeling oneself (24% higher)
- Being appreciated (21% higher)
- Getting voice heard (19% higher)
- Developing a sense of belonging (18% higher)
To top it all off, community builders run “platform risk”. This refers to risk associated if a rented platform goes down in usage or decides to make unwarranted changes.
Castles made of sand
Over-investing in external social media is a strategic misstep
Do not put all their focus on a platform you don’t own, just to build and grow followers you don’t own, either.
When building a sand castle, nothing in the world seems more important than shaping and protecting it from the encroaching sea.
But sand castles, then as now, are a symbol of impermanence, and will eventually slip into the ocean.
Just another button
On Discord, I've exhausted my 100 server limit. It's very easy to join a server and you might think that's a good thing. However, forgetting these servers is just as easy as joining them.
I haven't visited any of these channels for months on end. Discord's constant notifications pinging doesn't help either. I'm constantly trying to identify where my notifications are coming from.
I would bet big on a standalone community platform or app. The idea is so much better than just another button on a community marketplace.
An agnostic community would, in fact, be free from any ties to a specific platform. It would also run equally well across more than one platform.
Impression by association
Facebook is notorious for its privacy issues and for selling user profile data. Discord is known as a platform for gamers. Slack is recognized as an email replacement tool, meant for work-related communication.
When you choose to build your online community on one of these platforms, you run the risk of being associated with the branding of these platforms.
White-labeled online communities allow the owners to organize social elements however they want. They provide powerful moderation tools to keep the community a safe place.
You own data, you control everything
It’s never been more critical for brands to own and listen to customer data.
Building a community on a platform you own gives you access to a wide range of data points. And of course, it can be integrated with all other data repositories such as CRM, marketing hub, analytics, and reporting tools. You can augment the internal data with the community data and external social media data to get a 360-degree view of the customers.
In the 21st-century, without a data-driven strategy, running a business is impossible, let alone beating the competitors in the crowded markets. In this age of personalized-everything, a community makes your brand strong and has the capability to lead you through the most radical digital transformation ever.
To summarize, the debate between owning vs renting is almost a no-brainer, if you can afford the overhead cost. However, the platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Reddit still have advantages in terms of top-of-the-funnel acquisition.
This is why you should utilize the renting platforms to drive traffic to the places you own.
It's the best of both worlds.
If you’ve been hunting for an answer to the question of owning or renting a community space, we’re sure this article has helped you finalize on the right choice. Still got some reservations? No worries, our team of community experts is always available to help you out. Talk to us here.